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Your baby’s gross motor development will probably follow a predetermined trajectory from lying and playing on his back or tummy to rolling, sitting, crawling and finally standing. Kate Bailey, mother of three, Occupational Therapist and designer of the Moms and Babes program, gives us wonderful ideas on how to facilitate each of these areas of development.
Fun activity ideas to encourage rolling:
- When changing your baby’s nappy or dressing, roll him into a side lying position. He will get used to this new sensation and will soon be completing this movement and rolling onto his tummy.
- When your baby is in back lying, encourage him to reach up to a toy and then let him follow it across to one side. As he reaches across his body to get the toy, help him to roll over onto his tummy, (by rolling him at his shoulder or hip).
- When baby is in tummy lying, rock him gently from one side to the other, then straighten one arm out in front of him and roll over that side, onto his back. Repeat to the other side.
- Toys motivate baby to roll, so have a variety available to stimulate movement.
Why is rolling so important?
- Rolling gives your baby his first sense of independent movement.
- Rolling stimulates baby’s tummy muscles, which need to be strong for him to achieve future milestones of sitting and crawling.
- Rolling causes baby’s body to rotate or twist naturally and this rotation is important for balance skills at a later stage.
- Rolling provides your baby with lots of touch stimulation through his arms, legs, tummy, back and head.
Fun activity ideas to encourage sitting:
- Place baby in a box with cushions behind and in front, to give support and keep her upright. Pulling the box gently back and forth or around, will stimulate her postural control and balance in this position.
- Sit on the floor with your baby sitting between your legs, with her back against your body. Provide the correct amount of support to keep her upright. Hold a toy out in front of her to encourage her to look up and follow with her eyes.
- Place your baby in sitting on a large ball. Bouncing baby gently on the ball stimulates the muscles of her tummy and back, which can improve her sitting balance.
- Place baby on your lap and support her at her waist or hips (depending on the amount of support she needs), now lift one knee up slightly and the other, rocking her side to side to practice balance.
Benefits of sitting:
- Sitting stimulates the neck and trunk muscles for postural control.
- Baby can practice balance in this position.
- Sitting frees baby’s hands so she can practice reach and grasp.
* Carry chairs and other sitting devices offer too much support and do not encourage baby to use her muscles to develop postural control and balance.
By Kate Bailey, mother of three, Occupational Therapist and designer of the Moms and Babes program.